Frequently asked Questions

State of Emergency FAQs (Original Estamas On in Portuguese here here)

Updated 13th February

Restaurants and the like

 

Can catering establishments and the like maintain their functioning?

These establishments must be closed. However, they can work for:

Confectionery intended for consumption outside the establishment through home delivery (directly or through an intermediary), with the provision of alcoholic beverages not being allowed after 20:00;

Provision of packed meals or products at the door of the establishment or the wicket (take-away), although, in this case, the sale of any type of drinks as well as the consumption of meals or products at the door of the establishment is prohibited.

If the establishment is in shopping centre, it can only operate for home delivery purposes and no longer for take-away purposes.

Home delivery and take-away can take place until what time?

There is no time limit.

Can canteens, cafeterias and snack bars inserted in hospital spaces remain open?

Yes.

Can coffees and pastries work?

The same regime as applies to restaurants.

 

Fairs and Markets

 

Can fairs and markets remain open?

Yes, but only in the case of the sale of food products, and with the authorization of the Mayor, and must follow the contingency plan.

 

Commercial establishments

 

Can grocery stores, mini-markets, supermarkets and hypermarkets work?

Yes, until 8 pm on weekdays and until 5 pm on weekends and holidays.

Can hairdressers, barbers, beauticians and aesthetic beauty professionals work?

These establishments are closed.

Can tattoo and piercing services work?

These establishments are closed.

Can bookstores work?

These establishments are closed.

Can post offices, bank branches and insurance intermediaries or insurance agencies operate?

Yes.

Can small neighbourhood stores, with a door to the street and up to 200 m2, work?

Only stores that provide essential goods or other essential goods or that provide essential services or other essential services, according to the list attached to the Decree regulating the State of Emergency, and may operate.

Can industry and construction work?

Yes.

Can DIY stores work?

Yes.

Can service areas and filling stations on highways work?

Yes.

Can fuel filling stations and electric vehicle charging stations work?

Yes.

Can freight transport (rent-a-cargo) and passenger car hire (rent-a-car) services work?

Yes.

Can commercial establishments at airports operate?

Yes, as long as they are located inside airports in continental territory, after the passenger security control.

Outside food establishments, is it possible to sell or deliver products to the door (for example, in clothing stores)?

No.

Are sales and promotion campaigns allowed?

Advertising is prohibited with regard to sales campaigns and promotions that promote the flow of people in establishments open to the public.

The ban does not cover sales campaigns and promotions related to online sales.

Are there new opening hours for commercial establishments?

The establishments in operation close at 20:00 on weekdays and at 13:00 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Food establishments close at 20:00 on weekdays and at 17:00 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

 

Public services

 

Can citizen’s stores operate?

Citizen Stores are closed, with the appointment service for other public services only remaining in operation.

 

Accommodation and Hospitality

 

Can tourist establishments and local accommodation establishments operate?

Hotels, tourist establishments, local accommodation establishments may remain open, as well as those establishments that guarantee student accommodation.

Can hotel bars and restaurants work?

The bars and restaurants of the hotels are closed for service at the establishment, however, they can function for delivery to the guest rooms (room service) or for the provision of meals or products packaged at the door of the hotels (take-away), although, in this case, the sale of any type of drinks as well as the consumption of meals or products at the door of the establishment or in its surroundings is prohibited.

Can hotels serve in-room meals?

They can only deliver meals in the room (room service) or make it available at the hotel entrance.

 

Homes, Nurseries and Occupational Activity Centres

 

Are there any new restrictions on home visits?

No. The rules regarding home visits are maintained.

Are day centres and social centres still open?

No.

Are leisure centres still open?

No.

Are support facilities for people with disabilities still in operation?

Occupational activity centres are closed.

However, they must ensure food support to their users in a situation of economic need, and, whenever institutions meet the logistical and human resources conditions, they must provide occupational monitoring to users who have to stay in their homes.

Are day care centres still functioning?

No.

 

Events

 

Can wedding parties and baptisms be held?

No. Celebrations and other events are prohibited, and weddings and baptisms are included in this prohibition.

Can cultural shows take place?

No.

 

Transportation

 

Can public transport work?

Yes. Public transport continues to operate with the necessary adjustments to serve the population.

Are there any new restrictions on public passenger cars, taxis, etc.?

No. As for these transport services, the existing rules are maintained.

Can vehicle inspection centres and examination centres be open?

Inspection centres can only operate by appointment.

 

Education and training

 

Are schools closed?

Yes. Teaching activities are currently suspended. As of February 8, school activities will be resumed, either in person or at a distance.

However, whenever necessary, therapeutic support provided in special education establishments, schools and the Resource Centres for Inclusion is guaranteed, as well as the reception in units integrated in the Learning Support Centres, for the students for whom they were mobilized as additional measures.

Are higher education institutions closed?

On-site teaching and non-teaching activities at higher education institutions are suspended, except for the conclusion of the current assessment period.

Can Tutoring Centres remain open?

No.

Can driving schools be open?

No.

Can language schools be open?

No.

Are the educational activity establishments closed?

In-person training activities carried out by any training entities are suspended, and may be replaced by training on a distance basis, namely when it comes to mandatory professional training required for professional access and exercise.

 

Play, sporting, recreational and leisure activities

 

Are the gyms still functioning?

No.

What sports and physical activity can I do?

Physical activity and the practice of individual outdoor sports are allowed.

What sports activities and events are allowed?

The training and competitive activities of athletes from national teams of the Olympic and Paralympic modalities, from the 1st national division or from competition of corresponding competitive level of all modalities of the senior men and women, as well as of the international championships are allowed, provided that there is no public and in compliance with the guidelines defined by the DGS.

Is outdoor training allowed by an exercise coach allowed?

The training practiced by a person individually and outdoors can be supported or framed by an exercise technician, as long as the rules are respected.

Can golf, tennis and paddle courts remain open for non-professional sports?

No.

 

Circulation/travel

 

Are there any limitations on movement between municipalities?

Yes. It is forbidden to move outside the municipality of your home between 20:00 on Friday and 05:00 on Monday.

Can I take walks and walk pets outside my municipality?

No. The enjoyment of moments in the open air and the walking of companion animals must be restricted to the area of ​​residence, and must be dismounted, unaccompanied or in the company of members of the same household who cohabit.

Is it possible to travel to voluntary action to support vulnerable or homeless people?

Yes. Travel to participate in social volunteering activities is allowed.

I have a job interview. I can go?

Yes. Travel to find a job or respond to a job offer is allowed.

Are there any limitations to filming for the production of audio-visual content?

There are no limitations, as it is a professional or equivalent activity.

Are passengers arriving at Mainland airports obliged to undergo molecular testing by RT-PCR?

Passengers on flights originating in countries defined by dispatch must, at the time of departure, present proof of completion of a molecular test by RT-PCR to screen for SARS-CoV-2 infection with a negative result, performed within the previous 72 hours at the time of embarkation, under penalty of being denied boarding the aircraft and entering continental territory. Passengers, nationals or residents of Portugal, who, exceptionally, do not have proof of having taken a test with a negative result, then have to carry out a test on arrival, at their own expense, before entering continental territory.

After conducting the test on arrival at Mainland airports, do passengers have to wait at the airport for the test result?

Who is responsible for carrying out laboratory tests at airports?

Laboratory tests are performed and made available by ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, SA, through health professionals qualified for this purpose, and this service may be subcontracted.

Are passengers subject to body temperature screening? What happens if the temperature is 38ºC or higher?

ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, SA, performs infrared body temperature screening for all passengers arriving in mainland. Passengers who are found to have a temperature of 38 ° C or more are directed to a space suitable for repeated temperature measurement, and if the situation is justified, they will be subjected to molecular testing by RT-PCR, so, in this situation, they must wait in a proper place inside the airport until the notification of the result.

Are flights to and from Brazil and to and from the UK suspended?

Yes, given the assessment of the evolution of the epidemiological situation worldwide, all flights, commercial or private, from all airlines, with origin / destination in Brazil or origin / destination in the United Kingdom, and with origin / destination of airports or aerodromes Portuguese are suspended between 00:00 on 29 January 2021 until 23:59 on 14 February 2021.

 

Labour Context

 

Is Teleworking mandatory?

Yes. Teleworking is mandatory throughout the continental territory, regardless of the employment relationship, the type or nature of the legal relationship, whenever the functions in question permit and the worker has conditions to exercise it, without the need for agreement by the parties.

Service sector companies with more than 250 workers must communicate to the Working Conditions Authority the nominal list of workers who cannot perform their teleworking duties.

To which workers does the teleworking obligation not apply?

The teleworking obligation does not apply to:

To workers whose functions are not compatible with teleworking as attested by a statement issued by the employer;

To workers in essential services (health professionals, security and relief forces and services, including volunteer firefighters, and armed forces, workers in essential public services and institutions or social facilities to support the elderly such as homes, centres day and the like, management and maintenance of essential infrastructures);

Is time lag in workplaces mandatory?

Yes. In case telework is not compatible with the functions, the time difference is mandatory throughout the continental territory, regardless of the type of companies.

Can parents with children under 12 at home justify absences from work?

Yes. Absences from work motivated by assistance to a child under 12 years of age, or, regardless of age, with disabilities or chronic illness, resulting from suspension of classroom and non-teaching activities in school or social support equipment, are considered justified. early childhood or disability.

With the closure of schools, day-care centres or pre-school equipment, what support is it possible to resort to in situations where parents have to miss work to assist their children?

If neither parent is telecommuting, in addition to the justified absence, one of the parents is entitled to monthly financial support corresponding to two thirds of their basic remuneration declared in December 2020, paid in equal parts by the employer and the social security, being the minimum limit equal to a guaranteed minimum monthly remuneration (RMMG) and the maximum limit equal to three RMMG.

If it is a self-employed person who has contributed for at least 3 consecutive months for at least 12 months, the monthly support corresponds to one third of the monthly contribution base for the fourth quarter of 2020, with the minimum limit equal to 1 Social Support (IAS) and the maximum limit equal to 2.5 IAS, which may not, in any case, exceed the amount of remuneration recorded as a contributory base.

 Can essential service workers justify absences and have financial support to assist their children?

No. For the children of essential workers, there is a school or day-care for their reception.

 

____________________________________________

Vaccinations Updated 26th December

(Informal translation of Government FAQs in Portuguese here)

 

 

 

 

 

When will vaccination against COVID-19 start in Portugal?

In Portugal, the vaccination process will start on December 27, 2020 and will continue throughout the year 2021.

Is there a vaccination plan in Portugal?

Yes. The COVID-19 Vaccination Plan was presented on December 3 by the Task-Force coordinator, appointed to prepare this plan. The Vaccination Plan will be updated as more information becomes available. The first update to the Vaccination Plan was released on December 17. The National Health Service is responsible for implementing the plan.

Who developed the vaccination plan?

The COVID-19 Vaccination Plan was developed by a multidisciplinary team, created by government order, integrated by a coordination nucleus and by technical support bodies, services and bodies.

What vaccines did Portugal buy?

Portugal acquired about 22 million doses, under the agreements between six pharmaceutical companies and the European Union.

The six companies are Astrazeneca, BioNTech / Pfizer, Moderna, Curevac, Janssen and Sanofi / GSK.

Will the purchased vaccines arrive to vaccinate the entire Portuguese population?

Portugal has already secured, within the mechanisms of the European Commission, about 22 million doses of vaccines, sufficient to vaccinate all residents in Portugal. Even so, it should be stressed that all vaccines will not arrive at the same time, with delivery and administration taking place in a phased manner, taking into account the distribution calendar planned for next year, which implied the establishment of priority groups to receive the vaccine over that period.

Where were vaccines developed for COVID-19?

Vaccines have been developed in several parts of the world. Almost a year after SARS-Cov-2 was identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan, there are several studies underway, and more than 200 vaccines to be developed, of which over 50 are in the human testing phase (clinical trials).

Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Being vaccinated against COVID-19 allows us to protect ourselves individually against the disease and its complications and contribute to the protection of public health, through group immunity.

How many doses of the vaccine do I have to take?

As of today, vaccination against COVID-19 includes two doses / doses per person, although there are vaccines under development whose vaccination schedule may consist of just one dose.

Is the vaccine mandatory?

No. The vaccine against COVID-19 is voluntary, that is, only those who wish to take the vaccine. However, health officials strongly recommend vaccination against COVID-19 as a means of controlling the pandemic.

Are vaccines safe?

Yes. In the development and approval of vaccines against COVID-19, as for any other medicine, their effectiveness, safety and quality are being guaranteed, through clinical trials and rigorous evaluation by the European Medicines Agency. This process benefits from years of research. It should also be noted that the minimum time during which the vaccinees were monitored after taking the 2nd dose, was eight weeks. This period exceeds 6 weeks, during which time the most common adverse effects usually appear after taking vaccines. In these vaccines, no significant adverse effects were observed at a frequency or severity that jeopardizes their safety.

Does the vaccine against COVID-19 have side effects?

Like any other medicine, the vaccine against COVID-19 can also have side effects. Adverse reactions reported by some participants in clinical trials have been mild and transient and include, among others: injection site pain; fatigue; Headache; muscle pain; chills; joint pain; fever.

Of the vaccines to be administered in Portugal, will there be more effective and safer vaccines than others?

Any vaccine that is authorized by the EMA must demonstrate quality, safety and efficacy. The main differences between vaccines are how they induce the body to acquire immunity. Some vaccines will work in the traditional way. In it, components of the virus are injected and the immune system recognizes them as foreign entities, developing defences against them.

Other vaccines, those that are more advanced in the authorization process, are called mRNA vaccines and inject information that allows the body to create a component of the virus, which in turn will lead the immune system to develop defences.

At present, there is not enough information to suggest that one vaccine is better than another.

Will the vaccine prevent you from having COVID-19?

Studies suggest so. All of the earlier vaccines in clinical trials have shown preliminary results that have been shown to be effective against COVID-19. Effectiveness means that a vaccinated person has a risk of contracting the disease that is significantly less than that of another person, under identical circumstances, who has not been vaccinated. Efficacy for severe forms of illness can also be considered, that is, vaccinees may eventually have a mild illness, but are protected from severe forms of COVID-19 compared to unvaccinated ones. Therefore, vaccination will play a central role in the preservation of human lives and the containment of the pandemic.

How much will the vaccine against COVID-19 cost?

The vaccine will be free for the vaccinated person.

Where will the vaccine be administered?

All the logistics of the vaccination campaign (from central storage to administration at all vaccination points) are designed so that you can start vaccinating, using the National Health Service (SNS) network. Vaccination against COVID-19 will take place at vaccination points defined and adapted according to the vaccination phase.

Will all residents in Portugal have access to the vaccine? And the Portuguese emigrants?

The vaccine will be administered in a phased manner to priority groups, until the eligible population is fully vaccinated. The vaccine is universal, that is, it is intended for anyone present in Portugal, as long as the vaccine is clinically indicated for that person.

What will be the vaccination strategy in Portugal?

According to the vaccination plan, which may change due to the evolution of scientific knowledge and the indications and contraindications that may be approved by the European Medicines Agency, the vaccination strategy will be as follows:

Phase 1:

From December 2020:

  • Health professionals involved in patient care
  • Professionals in the armed forces, security forces and critical services
  • Professionals and residents in Residential Structures for the Elderly (ERPI) and similar institutions
  • Professionals and users of the National Integrated Continuing Care Network (RNCCI).

 

From February 2021: People aged ≥50 years, with at least one of the following pathologies:

  • Cardiac insufficiency
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Renal failure (Glomerular Filtration Rate <60ml / min) (COPD)
  • or chronic respiratory disease under ventilator support and / or long-term oxygen therapy

 

Phase 2 (from April 2021):

  • Persons aged ≥65 years (who have not been previously vaccinated)
  • People between 50 and 64 years of age, inclusive, with at least one of the following pathologies:
  • Diabetes
  • Active malignant neoplasm
  • Chronic kidney disease (Glomerular Filtration Rate> 60ml / min)
  • Liver failure
  • Arterial hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Other pathologies with less prevalence that may be defined later, depending on scientific knowledge

 

Phase 3 (on a date to be determined after the completion of the second phase):

The rest of the eligible population, which can also be prioritized.

Who will be vaccinated first?

Given the limited and phased access to vaccines against COVID-19 (at least in the first stage), it is necessary to define priority groups for vaccination. In a first phase, the following will be included:

  • Health professionals involved in providing care to patients;
  • Professionals and residents in Residential Structures for the Elderly (ERPI) and similar institutions;
  • Professionals and users of the National Integrated Continuing Care Network (RNCCI);
  • People aged ≥50 years, with at least one of the following pathologies:
  • Cardiac insufficiency;
  • Coronary heart disease;
  • Renal failure (GFR <60ml / min);
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or chronic respiratory disease under ventilator support and / or long-term oxygen therapy;
  • Professionals in the armed forces, security forces and critical services

 

Will all residents in Portugal have access to the vaccine? And the Portuguese emigrants?

The vaccine will be administered in a phased manner to priority groups, until the eligible population is fully vaccinated. The vaccine is universal, that is, it is intended for anyone present in Portugal, as long as the vaccine is clinically indicated for that person.

Can I choose which vaccine I want to get?

All of the earlier vaccines in clinical trials have shown preliminary results that have been shown to be effective against COVID-19. Since at present there is not enough information to consider that one vaccine is better than another, or a difference in its indications, it is expected that vaccination can be carried out according to the defined priorities, in order to provide access to the vaccine to all people. People who need it most, efficiently.

I am over 50 years old and I am part of a risk group. Will I be contacted by my health centre?

Yes, you will be contacted by the National Health Service when your turn comes.

I’ve been infected. Do I really need to get the vaccine?

The prioritization of people previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 depends on the evaluation of the benefit in strengthening the immunity of people with a previous diagnosis of COVID-19. In a scenario in which the number of vaccines is limited and access to vaccines should be prioritized according to people at greatest risk or vulnerability, it is understood that individuals with proven SARS-CoV-2 infection should not be included in the first vaccination phase.

If I am vaccinated, do I need to comply with the restrictions?

Even after being vaccinated, the person must continue to observe all the recommended measures for their protection and containment of the transmission, including the use of a mask.

On the one hand, a vaccinee should only consider himself protected from illness seven days after taking the second dose of the vaccine. This is the period that guarantees a robust response from your immune system.

On the other hand, it is still unknown whether being vaccinated prevents asymptomatic infection. Vaccines provide protection against the disease, but it is not known whether they are also protected against infection and the possibility that even without symptoms transmitting the virus to another. Masks and detachment prevent us from infecting others if we are carriers of the virus without knowing it.

After getting the vaccine, how long will I be immune?

At this time, it is not possible to assess how long this protection will be maintained, whether there will be a need to administer reinforcements and how often. This information will be updated as more data becomes available.

At what age can the vaccine be taken? Should children take it?

Clinical trials with children are still scarce and it is not yet possible to say whether the vaccine is safe and effective, or what dose should be given to this group. Children are able to trigger a natural, rapid and effective response against the virus, with this disease presenting a lower degree of severity in children.

Should pregnant women get the vaccine?

Since vaccine development does not involve recruiting either children or pregnant women, there is still no data on vaccination in pregnant women. The administration of the vaccine in pregnant women should be evaluated by the attending physician, according to the benefit-risk ratio.

Are the elderly also part of the priority group for vaccination?

Yes. The elderly are part of the priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19. Naturally, the results of the evaluation and authorization of vaccines by the EMA must be awaited, in order to know the indications of each vaccine in terms of age groups and comorbidities and, if relevant, based on the best scientific information, define the characteristics of the groups and priorities considered for each vaccine.

Will people who are dependent but not institutionalized be included in priority vaccination groups?

Yes, if priority criteria are met.

How do I register for the vaccine bulletin?

The inoculation record will be made directly in the Vaccines system, which will allow the vaccine to automatically appear: in the user’s vaccination schedule; on the VACINAS Platform (accessible to healthcare professionals); on the MySNS Wallet App (vaccine bulletin) and in the Citizens Area of ​​the SNS Portal

How will crowding at vaccination points be avoided?

Vaccination should be scheduled and divided into several stages.

Will it be possible to monitor the execution of the vaccination campaign in real time?

As usual, DGS monitors, in real time, the execution of the vaccination campaign. In this particular case, the Task Force will centralize this monitoring.

Is there a way to apply for vaccination?

You should wait to be contacted by the National Health Service.

I have family members in a home. How will vaccination proceed in this context? Who is responsible for the vaccination?

As usual, the SNS already ensures vaccination in residential structures for the elderly, through the teams of health centres that travel to homes.

During limitation of movement between municipalities

I work outside the municipality where I live , Do I need an employer statement?

Yes, you do. If you are self-employed, you need to be able to give information about the purpose of the trip.

I study outside the municipality where I live. Can I go to classes? 

It is one of the expected exceptions. “Travel by minors and their companions to school establishments, day care centres and leisure activities, as well as travel by students to higher education institutions or other school establishments” are permitted. The diploma says nothing about the need – or way – to prove it.

I am attending training. Do I have to be absent?

No. Travel to attend training and tests and examinations, as well as inspections, is authorized. Nothing is said about whether it is necessary to have a document attesting to it.

One of those days I have a scripture test. Am I forced to postpone?

No. Travel is excluded from the prohibition “to participate in procedural acts with the judicial authorities or in acts within the competence of notaries, lawyers, solicitors, conservators and registry officers, as well as for assistance in public services”. However, it is necessary to have proof that the appointment is confirmed.

Can day centre users travel as usual?

Yes, users and their companions can travel to Occupational Activity Centers and Day Centers.

I have booked a trip overseas for this period. What do I do?

The circulation ban does not apply to travel required to leave mainland Portugal.

I have been away from home and I was thinking of returning during a curfew period or when there is limitation of movement between municipalities. Can I do this?

It is also a predicted exception. Non-resident citizens can travel, provided that they are in places of proven residence, as well as return trips to their usual residence.

I am a health professional. Am I required to follow this ban?

Health professionals and other workers in health and social support institutions, as well as teaching and non-teaching staff in schools.

 

General measures

Can I go to the cafe with six friends?

No, that would make seven people. The gatherings allow maximum of 6 people unless of same household.

 Can I invite you to my wedding?

Yes, as long as the total number of people does not exceed 50 people. This is the limit imposed on family or friends gatherings, such as baptisms, weddings and the like. However you need to comply with DGS rules.

The answer is NO. A recommendation for the installation of the new coronavirus screening app has from the Council of Ministers.

 

Beaches

There is a group pf use who wish to go to the beach. Can we do so?

You must follow the beach rules in place and they can be downloaded here: Summary Beaches PDF English HERE

Restaurants

Does the 50% capacity in restaurants apply still?

The number of customers at the same time in restaurants and similar establishments will be able to exceed 50% of the occupancy. But the tables will have to be 1.5 meters apart from each other and separation barriers will have to be installed between customers who are face to face.

DGS Guideline Restaurants 23-2020 English  HERE

Information for Food Handlers HERE

 

Religion

I wish to get married, is this possible and can I invite people?

As long as the guidelines of the Directorate-General for Health are respected, events of a family nature, including weddings and baptisms, community celebrations of various religious denominations, events of a corporate nature held in spaces suitable for this purpose, as well as cultural events.

 

International travel

Is the border with Spain open?

The law does not cover this subject. The border with Spain is still subject to controls, until June 15th and is reviewed every 10 days.

 

QUESTIONS ARISING FROM STATE OF EMERGENCY MEASURES

 

Health

 

What are Coronaviruses? 

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause infections in people. Usually these infections affect the respiratory system and can be similar to the flu or progress to a more serious disease, such as pneumonia.

What is this new Coronavirus?

The new coronavirus, designated SARS-CoV-2, was first identified in December 2019 in China, in the city of Wuhan. This new agent has never been identified in humans before. The source of the infection is still unknown.

The route of transmission is still under investigation. Person-to-person transmission has been confirmed and infection already exists in several countries and in people who had not visited the Wuhan market. The investigation continues.

Is COVID-19 the same as SARS-CoV2?

No. SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the new virus and it means Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus-2. There is another coronavirus that causes SARS, which was identified in 2002 and is known as “SARS-CoV”. This is why the new coronavirus has been named “SARS-CoV-2”. COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) is the name of this disease and it means Coronavirus Disease in 2019, in reference to the year in which it was discovered.

What is the origin of the New Coronavirus?

According to information published by the international authorities, the source of the infection is unknown and may still be active. The majority of cases are linked to a market in Wuhan (Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market), which specialises in live food and animals (fish, seafood and fowl). The market was closed on the 1st January 2020. As the first cases of infection are related to people who frequented this market, the suspicion is that the virus is of animal origin although there is no certainty, because infection has been confirmed in people who never visited the market. Investigation is ongoing.

Has there ever been a Coronavirus epidemic before?

Yes. In previous years, some coronaviruses have been identified that have caused outbreaks and severe respiratory infections in humans. Examples of this were:

  • between 2002 and 2003 the severe acute respiratory syndrome (infection caused by the SARS-CoV coronavirus);
  • in 2012 the Middle East respiratory syndrome (infection caused by the MERS-CoV coronavirus).

 

What is the risk for Portugal?

The risk assessment is constantly updated, according to the evolution of the outbreak. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) issue daily communications with a summary of the latest information and recommendations.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Most infected people have mild to moderate symptoms of acute respiratory infection:
• Fever (T> 37.5ºC)
• Cough
• Breathing difficulty (Shortness of breath)

In more severe cases it can cause severe pneumonia with acute respiratory failure, kidney and other organ failure, and eventual death. However, most cases recover without effects.

I need a doctor. What now?

The SNS24 hotline (800 242424 Option 9 for English) is the best point of contact for suspected cases of COVID-19 because it directs patients to the most appropriate place. This is the most important and organised contact.

Health centres are prepared to help their patients and using the phone is the most correct way to contact the family doctor in these difficult days.

Should the public contact the Health Centres directly or only via the SNS24 hotline?

People with no suspicion of COVID-19 should contact their health centre preferably by phone or email. They should only move when absolutely necessary or as indicated by the doctor or nurse after telephone contact.

Those with suspected COVID-19 should contact the SNS24 line (800 24 24 24). Option 9 (first option) English

If people make direct contact, where can they obtain the contacts? Is there a directory?

Normal users know the telephone number of their local health unit, but the number of each unit is easily obtainable on the internet or by calling 118.

What about foreigners and people who have no family doctor assigned? Who should they contact and how?

People who are registered at a health unit or health centre and do not have an assigned family doctor should also make contact by phone, even though they do not have a fixed health team assigned.

Foreign or national citizens who are not registered with a health centre should contact the SNS24 even COVID-19 is not suspected. The SNS24 line is dedicated to all health clarifications and referrals.

After the first symptoms appear, how long can the illness last?

It can last up to five weeks. A person is considered cured when two consecutive diagnostic tests prove negative. The tests are performed at intervals of two to four days, until negative results are obtained. The duration of illness depends on each patient, their immune system and whether there are any associated underlying conditions, which may alter the risk level.

 

Transmission

How is it transmitted?

COVID-19 is transmitted by close contact with people infected by the virus, or contaminated surfaces and objects.

This disease is transmitted through droplets released by the nose or mouth when we cough or sneeze, which can directly reach the mouth, nose and eyes of those close to us.

Droplets can be deposited on objects or surfaces that surround the infected person. In turn, other people can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth with their hands.

What is community transmission?

When a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, health authorities conduct an epidemiological survey to, among other information, understand the source of the infection. When this source cannot be identified, that is, who transmitted the virus, it is said that we are dealing with a community transmission area.

What is the incubation period?

It is estimated that the disease incubation period (time from exposure to the virus to the appearance of symptoms) is between 2 and 14 days. Transmission by asymptomatic people (without symptoms) is still being investigated.

What is “close contact”?

The following cases can be considered as close contacts:

  • Person with exposure associated with health care, namely the provision of direct care to patients with COVID-19 or contact in a laboratory environment with samples of COVID-19;
  • Contact in proximity or in a closed environment with a patient with COVID-19 (ex: classroom);
  • People traveling with a patient with COVID-19, such as:
  • traveling companions on an airplane: people who are two seats to the patient’s left or right, 2 seats in the two consecutive rows in front of the patient and two seats in the two consecutive rows behind the patient and crew members who served the patient’s section;
  • travel companions on a ship: people who shared the same cabin and crew members who served the patient’s cabin.
  • Or other means of transport (buses, trains …)

 

The Health Authority may consider other individuals not defined in the previous points as close contact (the assessment is made on a case-by-case basis).

Can domestic animals transmit Covid-19

No. According to information from the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence that domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, have been infected and that, consequently, they can transmit 2019-nCoV.

Can Covid-19 be transmitted through food including chilled and frozen food?

Coronaviruses are usually transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) “the experiences of previous outbreaks with coronavirus, namely with the SARS-CoV coronavirus and the MERS-CoV coronavirus, show that its transmission did not occur through food consumption”.

Currently, there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 by food.

However, applying the precautionary principle, maintaining and reinforcing good hygiene and food safety practices during food handling, preparation and co-infection is recommended.

Taking the precautionary principle, the WHO published on its website some recommendations regarding good hygiene and food safety practices and, at national level, the Food and Economic Security Authority (ASAE), published the statement – Can the new type of coronavirus be transmissible through Food?

Of these guidelines regarding the preparation, confection and consumption of food, the following good hygiene practices are highlighted:

  • Frequent and prolonged hand washing (with soap and water for 20 seconds), followed by proper drying to avoid cross contamination (for example, close the tap with a paper towel instead of the hand that opened it while it was dirty)
  • Proper disinfection of worktops and tables with appropriate products
  • Avoid contamination between raw and cooked food
  • Cook and “plate” food at appropriate temperatures and wash raw food properly
  • Avoid sharing food or objects between people during preparation, cooking and consumption

 

ASAE will continue to monitor this situation on an ongoing basis and whenever justified, it will issue new communications or technical documents.

Can an asymptomatic person transmit COVID-19?

The risk of getting COVID-19 from someone without symptoms is very low. However, many infected people have only mild symptoms, especially in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, it is possible to contract the virus from someone who has only a mild cough, for example, and does not feel sick.

Can children transmit COVID-19 infection and disease?

Yes, children infected with SARS-CoV-2 or who are in the incubation phase also transmit the disease. Due to close proximity between children, maintaining very close contact during play and sharing toys with droplets and secretions can be a great transmitter of COVID-19. As young children are vulnerable and do not yet have the capacity to defend themselves and to make decisions about their own protection, adults must ensure the necessary care to reduce the likelihood of transmission.

 

Can transmission occur through the air or via metal surfaces?

Contagion is not by air, but through respiratory secretions or droplets that are expelled by an infected person and/or during the performance of invasive medical procedures that produce aerosols. The droplets that the person expels can enter directly through the mouth, eyes or nose and cause infection.

Complying with the social distance recommended by the Directorate-General for Health or staying at home are good measures to prevent infection at this stage.

Metal or other surfaces do not directly transmit the virus. They only transmit the virus if people touch a contaminated surface or one with respiratory secretions or droplets containing viral particles with their hands and, later, they bring their hands to their mouth, nose or eyes. If surfaces are washed regularly, this contamination is avoided.

 

Testing and Treatment

Should I be tested for COVID-19? (updated as per ruling 004/2020)

If you develop an acute respiratory cough (persistent or worsening of usual cough), or fever (temperature ≥ 38.0ºC), or shortness of breath / difficulty breathing, you should call the SNS24 Line (808 24 24 24) Option 9 (the first option) in English or the dedicated telephone lines at the Family Health Units or Personal Health Care Units.

After this contact and validation of the medical history, health professionals will determine whether it is necessary to be tested for COVID-19.

Where can I take a test?

After receiving the request for the COVID-19 test, the patient or his representative must:
• Contact the laboratory where he intends to perform the COVID-19 test by phone
• Schedule the COVID-19 test

 

The collection of samples must be carried out at home or collection points destined for that purpose, according to the list of laboratories.

Laboratory tests must be carried out within a maximum of 48 hours, after contact by the patient or his representative.

How many tests are performed per day?

This number varies depending on daily requirements, which are increasing as the epidemic evolves.

What is the treatment?

Treatment for infection with this new coronavirus is directed at the signs and symptoms presented.

Are antibiotics an effective way of treating the virus?

No, antibiotics are directed at bacteria, having no effect against viruses. SARS-CoV-2 is a virus and, as such, antibiotics should not be used for its prevention or treatment. It will not work and may contribute to increased resistance to antimicrobials (antibiotics).

How are patients dealt with or referred?

  • Patients are referred, according to their clinical severity, for self-care, in isolation from home and under surveillance, or for medical evaluation, in Dedicated Areas for COVID-19 (ADC) in primary health care or emergency rooms, or to the National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM).
  • Is hospitalisation necessary in all cases? No. Not all confirmed cases of COVID-19 require hospitalization, as long as they present a mild and stable clinical case, are able to stay at home and the monitoring of the health team at home is guaranteed.

 

Can all hospitals be used as inpatient units for COVID-19 patients?

All hospitals will be able to serve as inpatient units as long as they meet the appropriate conditions for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

How is the data from the cases analysed reported to the DGS, whether positive or unconfirmed?

Reporting is done by the doctors who are obliged to report on the SINAVE (National Epidemiology Surveillance System) platform.

Do patients who recover have immunity? Can they be re-infected?

There is evidence that the human body gains immunity following contact with the virus and developing the disease; this effect may increase when a vaccine is available.

 

Prevention Measures

What are hygiene measures and respiratory etiquette?

In affected areas, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends hygiene measures and respiratory etiquette to reduce exposure and transmission of the disease:

  • Respiratory etiquette measures: cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, with a tissue or forearm, never with your hands, and always throw the tissue in the trash;
  • Wash your hands frequently. You should wash them whenever you blow, sneeze, cough or after direct contact with sick people. You should wash them for 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”) with soap and water or with a 70% alcohol-based solution;
  • Avoid close contact with people with respiratory infection;
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands;
  • Avoid sharing personal objects or food that you have touched.

Who is at risk from Covid-19?

The virus does not respect nationality, age or gender, so we are all at risk of contracting this new coronavirus.

Still, the people most at risk for serious COVID-19 disease are the elderly and people with chronic illnesses (e.g. heart disease, diabetes and lung disease).

What should people at risk of serious COVID-19 do?

If you are at risk of serious COVID-19 disease, you should:

  • Take daily precautions (e.g. respiratory etiquette measures), avoiding close contact with other people;
  • Stay away from sick people;
  • Limit social contact and avoid crowds;
  • Wash your hands frequently.

 

If there is a cluster in your community, avoid close contact with people and, if possible, stay at home. Pay attention to the signs and symptoms. If you get sick, stay home and call SNS24.

Should I wear a mask for protection?

According to the current situation in Portugal, the use of a mask for individual protection should be indoors and outdoors where it is not possible to maintain social distancing defined by DGS.

What precautions should be taken when using a mask?

Before putting on the mask, wash your hands thoroughly. Make sure the mask is perfectly fitted to your face and avoid touching it while you are wearing it. Change your mask when it is dirty or damp and wash your hands thoroughly before removing it.

And remember: the use of the mask is only appropriate if it is applied in conjunction with hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, surface cleaning and social distancing.

Should I use gloves for protection?

Wearing gloves on the street is not effective. If used improperly, gloves can be a vehicle for transmitting the virus, rather than a means of protection. When not indicated, the use of gloves represents a waste of resources.

The most important thing to prevent the transmission of the virus is to wash your hands frequently and whenever they are dirty.

When should I use gloves?

Gloves should be used for cleaning bathrooms or other surfaces with bleach or other disinfectants, when you are a caregiver for a patient with COVID-19 or, if you are a healthcare professional, when performing procedures that involve direct skin contact with broken skin, mucous or body fluids.

What care should be taken when preparing and cooking food?

Wash your hands thoroughly before and while cooking meals. Take care to properly wash raw food and cook and plate the food at suitable temperatures.

Do not share food or objects between people during their preparation, cooking and consumption. At all times, adopt respiratory etiquette measures. Avoid contamination between raw and cooked food.

What are the recommendations for those who have to use public transport?

If you are going to travel by public transport, the following is recommended:

  • Ensure a minimum distance from other people;
  • Position yourself back to back against other people
  • Use a mask
  • Avoid bringing your hands to your mouth, eyes or nose;
  • Turn your face to the side, if someone is coughing in front of you and ask the person who is coughing to do it into a handkerchief or into the arm or the elbow;
  • Disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based solution or wash your hands as soon as possible.
  • Capacity of public transport is two thirds normal capacity.

 

Risk Groups

What are the risk groups for COVID-19?

Risk groups for COVID 19 include:

  • Old people;
  • People with chronic diseases – heart, lung, diabetes, neoplasms or high blood pressure, among others;
  • People with compromised immune systems (undergoing chemotherapy treatments, treatments for autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis or some inflammatory bowel diseases), HIV / AIDS infection or transplant patients.

 

Is being asthmatic a risk condition for COVID-19 infection?

People with asthma are considered to be at risk. Therefore, the social isolation measures recommended by the Directorate-General for Health are advised:

  • Stay at home. You should only leave the house if it is strictly necessary. Avoid close contact with people;
  • Protect yourself, as you are at a higher risk of infection. You should always keep the therapy you regularly follow;
  • Comply with hygiene rules and respiratory etiquette;
  • In case of worsening, start the SOS medication you use in crises and contact SNS24.
  • Pay attention to signs and symptoms. If you get sick, stay home and call SNS24.

 

Are children and young people with Type 1 Diabetes considered at risk?

Yes. Anyone with diabetes, regardless of their age, is always at a higher risk if they become ill with COVID-19, although the risk is always higher in older people.

A child or young person with type 1 diabetes, due to his illness, is at higher risk than a healthy child or young person.

Can children be left with their grandparents?

At this time, it is not recommended that children be with their grandparents as they are considered a vulnerable group. Although children are less affected by this disease and have milder symptoms, they can transmit the virus to others.

It is preferable that children and grandparents talk through social networks, chats and cell phones during this phase of transmission of the disease.

 

Isolation

What precautions should I take if I am in isolation?

You must stay at home. You should not go to work, school or public spaces. Stay in your own room and avoid contact with others in common spaces. Do not share dishes, glasses, kitchen utensils, sheets or other personal effects.

When you are with other people, wear a mask. Follow hand washing and respiratory etiquette recommendations. Monitor the symptoms and put your waste in a special bag.

 

What rules should be followed by other household members?

Contact with the person with symptoms should be avoided, especially if they belong to vulnerable groups: elderly, chronically ill, immunosuppressed and pregnant women. Preferably, it should be a single person to take care of those who are sick.

After contact with the patient or his space, wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based solution. Frequently disinfect taps, switches and door handles, especially if the sick person uses common spaces.

What Can I NOT do in isolation?

People who are in isolation should not travel to work, school, public spaces or other places; receiving visits at home or having unnecessary contacts, especially with older people or those with chronic illnesses; use common spaces with other people present, including during mealtimes; sharing personal hygiene items; share the use of objects, if this is not possible, disinfect the equipment before and after each use and use a dustbin just for you.

If I am in isolation can I receive visitors at home?

No. Only the people who live with the person infected with COVID-19 should be in the home. Should urgent contact be required with/by someone who does not cohabit with the person in isolation, this should always be by telephone.

 

Smoking and COVID-19

Are smokers at greater risk of being infected by and developing serious illness through COVID-19?

There are no studies to confirm this. However, if the person who smokes already has respiratory or cardiac problems, this can contribute to worsening of the clinical situation, if they become infected with COVID-19. A long-time smoker already has pulmonary alterations that may be associated with pneumonia in case of COVID-19 infection.

Are passive smokers more susceptible to infection?

The clinical risks must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis because each person’s reaction to the infection will be different. However, we know that someone who is exposed to passive smoking for eight hours per day carries similar risks to someone who smokes 10 cigarettes per day.

Does someone who gives up smoking improve their capacity of response to infection by COVID-19?

The recovery of lung capacity is not immediate. But anyone who decides to quit smoking should do so because it will always make a difference (cancer, stroke, acute myocardial infarction, COPD and other comorbidities) and will always have benefits for your health – in the short and long term.

Is there a risk of COVID-19 transmission by sharing a cigarette with someone else?

Yes, no objects of personal use, including cigarettes, should be shared with other people. The virus is transmitted via our mucous membranes (mouth, eyes and nose).

 

Stigma

Why do they blame or stigmatise people or groups due to Covid-19?

People may be concerned about friends and family who live in or visit areas affected by COVID-19. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma, for example, towards Chinese or other Asians, or quarantined people.

Stigma refers to discrimination against a group of people, a place or a nation. This is associated with the lack of knowledge about the transmission mode of COVID-19, the need to attribute blame, the fear of illness and possible death and the rumours and myths disseminated.

Stigma causes suffering, increasing fear or anger towards ordinary people, rather than focusing on the disease that is causing the problem.

How can people fight stigma? 

People can fight stigma and help other people by providing them with social support. Combating stigma can be done through learning and sharing facts about COVID-19.

The fact that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups should be divulged, as well as the mode of transmission of COVID-19.

 

Pregnancy

Are pregnant women more susceptible to infection or are they at greater risk of serious illness, morbidity or death with COVID-19, compared to the general public?

In published scientific studies, there is no information on the susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunological and physiological changes that can make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. During pregnancy, women may also be at risk for serious illness, morbidity or mortality compared to the general population, as seen in cases of other coronavirus-related infections [including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and coronavirus of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV)] and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza (influenza).

Pregnant women should engage in usual preventive actions to prevent infections, such as washing their hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick people, or suspected cases that are under surveillance. They must respect the recommended distance between close people (1.5 to 2 meters).

Are pregnant women with COVID-19 at higher risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy?

We have no information on adverse pregnancy outcomes in pregnant women with COVID-19. Gestational loss, including spontaneous abortion and stillbirth, has been observed in cases of infection with other coronaviruses [SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV] during pregnancy. It is known that high fever during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of certain birth defects.

Are pregnant health professionals at higher risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy if they care for patients with COVID-19?

Pregnant healthcare professionals should follow the risk assessment and infection control guidelines for healthcare professionals exposed to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Adherence to recommended infection prevention and control practices is an important part of protecting all healthcare professionals in healthcare settings. Information on COVID-19 in pregnancy is very limited; services may want to consider limiting the exposure of the pregnant healthcare professional to patients with COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected), especially when performing higher risk procedures (for example, procedures that generate aerosol particle production), if possible, based on staff availability.

Can pregnant women with COVID-19 transmit the virus to the foetus or newborn (i.e. vertical transmission)?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly by close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. It is not yet known whether a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to the fetus or newborn via other vertical transmission routes (before, during or after delivery). However, in a limited series of recent cases of babies born to mothers with COVID-19 published in the peer-reviewed literature, two cases have been described with positive results for COVID-19 infection, one newborn in the first 30 hours and the second in 48 hours, but the route of contagion is not certain. In retrospective studies of a small series of cases, the virus was not detected in samples of amniotic fluid, cord blood or breast milk.

There is limited information available on vertical transmission for other coronaviruses (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV), but vertical transmission has not been reported for these infections.

Are children born to mothers infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy at greater risk of complications?

Based on a limited number of reported cases, complications have been observed in children (for example, premature birth) in babies born to mothers infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy. However, it is not clear that these complications are related to maternal infection and, at this time, the risk of complications in children is not known. Given that the data available for COVID-19 during pregnancy is limited, knowledge of complications related to other viral respiratory infections may provide some information. For example, other respiratory viral infections that occur during pregnancy, such as influenza, have been linked to neonatal complications, including low birth weight and prematurity. Besides that,

Women with other coronavirus, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV infections, during pregnancy, have had premature and / or small babies for gestational age.

What is the risk that the existence of COVID-19 in a pregnant woman or a newborn may have long-term effects on child health and development that may require clinical support beyond childhood?

At the moment, there is no information about the long-term health effects for babies with COVID-19 or for those exposed in the womb to COVID-19. In general, prematurity and low birth weight are associated with long-term health complications.

Is COVID-19 infection of the mother during breastfeeding associated with a potential risk for a breastfed child?

Person-to-person transmission through close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 occurs mainly through respiratory droplets produced when a person with an infection coughs or sneezes.
In limited series of cases reported to date, no evidence of viruses has been found in the breast milk of women with COVID-19. There is no information available on the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through breast milk (that is, whether the infectious virus is present in the breast milk of an infected woman).

In limited reports of lactating women infected with SARS-CoV, the virus was not detected in milk; however, at least one sample of antibodies against SARS-CoV was detected.

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